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What are PICC Lines used for?

PICC lines are just one of many types of Vascular Access Devices (VADs).  VADs provide intravenous therapy and allow diagnostic testing.   PICC stands for Peripherally Inserted (the arm) Central Catheter (a vein just outside the heart).  There are many benefits to using a PICC line.

The catheter (thin tubing) in a PICC line is inserted in a vein just above the elbow and weaved around the shoulder to inside the Superior Vena Cava (SVC), a vein just above the heart.  The SVC is a large vein that allows caustic medications to be diluted before being dispersed into the bloodstream by the heart.  The benefit of this line, verses an Intravenous Catheter (IV) that is placed solely in the arm, is minimal irritation to the vein and the ability to withstand multiple therapy treatments.  If you were to use an IV in the arm, or rather a Peripheral IV, the vein could not withstand the multiple treatments and would close down.


What are PICC lines used for?

PICC lines are used when the IV medications or fluids may irritate veins or when medications are given over a longer period of time.   For example, chemotherapy can be toxic to the veins if used in a Peripheral IV but if used in a PICC line, the medication will bypass those veins and come only in contact with the central veins.

PICC lines also reduce the discomfort of multiple IVs, i.e., multiple needle sticks, and can be used and maintained at home.  Multiple fluids or medications can be given in a PICC line as a PICC line can have more than 1 lumen or channel. The PICC line can remain in place over an extended period of time, depending on the treatment and the care and maintenance by the patient or caregiver.

PICC lines can be used for treatment for conditions such as Cancer, Diabetes, Lyme Disease, POTS (Postural Orthostatic Tachaycardia Syndrome), Cystic Fibrosis, and Gastrointestinal Diseases such as Crohns.


How are PICC lines being used?

PICC lines can be used for:  IV nutrition feeding (Total Parenteral Nutrition) that allows bypassing the GI tract to provide nutrition for the body via the veins; Providing medication such as antibiotics for serious infections; Administering chemotherapy for cancer treatment; and Withdrawing blood samples for lab work and patient monitoring.

PICC lines are used in Hospitals, Nursing Homes, Surgical Centers and the home.  A benefit of the PICC line is that the patient can live at home and even work, providing the patient more flexibility and freedom.  There is even a push for patients to receive PICC lines to be able to continue or obtain treatments at home, which sometimes can be done by the patient or family member.  The patient is able to stay out of the hospital which reduces the patient’s risk of developing hospital acquired infections. This benefits the patient and the healthcare system by improving outcomes and reducing costs.  When inserted and used correctly, PICC lines are valuable tools due to their broad applicability and effectiveness.

Vascular Wellness Serves North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia and expanding to Georgia, Tennessee, and Kentucky.


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